US Home Sales, House Prices: March 2019

A flurry of data on US real estate was released this week, with new housing starts, and new and existing home sales and house prices, all coming out Monday and Tuesday. Of great importance to the sawmilling industry is US new home sales: seasonally adjusted annual rate according to estimates from the joint release of HUD and the US Census Bureau.

US New Home Sales, Prices: March 2019

For 1Q 2019, new home sales in the US are running +1.7% higher than 1Q 2018. Sales were up +9.6% for the quarter in the South, but down everywhere else.
The months’ supply number of new US homes for sale improved to 6, which indicates the market is stabilizing after the fall off in sales last autumn due to higher interest rates. The return to the long-run trend for sales and recent declines in mortgage interest rates suggest demand is available when housing affordability conditions improve.

Read our previous release on this subject: US Housing Starts: March 2019.

Inventory, on a national basis, was up +2.4% year-over-year (YoY) in March, this was the eighth consecutive month with a YoY increase, following over three years of YoY declines. — Calculated Risk

After increasing from August to December, new home inventory has stabilized between 340,000 and 350,000 in recent months. This does mark a gain on a year-over-year basis from March 2018 when inventory stood at 297,000. The current months’ supply number has fallen from 7.4 in December 2018 to a more normalized 6.0 in March.
March sales grew at lower price points. For example, 50% of March 2019 new home sales were priced under US$300,000. In March of 2018, only 39% of sales were priced under US$300,000.
The median new home sales price in March was estimated to be US$302,700. This is down from a year ago when the median was US$335,400.

US Existing Home Sales, Prices: March 2019

After a strong gain in February, US existing home sales, released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Tuesday, fell back in March despite lower interest rates and a strong labor market.
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, declined -4.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.21 million in March. On a year-over-year basis, sales were -5.4% lower than a year ago.
Sales have declined on an annualized basis for more than a year.

Year-to-date sales are down about -6.5% compared to the same period in 2018. On an annual basis, that would put sales around 5 million in 2019. — Calculated Risk

According to the NAR, inventory of existing US homes for sale increased to 1.68 million in March from 1.63 million in January. Inventory was up +2.4% year-over-year in March compared to March 2018.
This was the eighth consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in inventory, although the YoY increase was smaller in March than in the five previous months.
Months of supply was at 3.9 months in March.

The March median sales price of an existing home was US$259,400, which was up +3.8% from a year ago, representing the 85th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The March median condominium/co-op price of US$244,400 was up +3.6% from a year ago.